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Bombeck hits the bull's-eye with this wry meditation on the art of surviving one's long-dreamed-of and hard-earned exotic vacations. Huddled in a lumpy bed in Papua New Guinea, listening to a tribal war play itself out in the street outside her hotel room, Bombeck reflects on the privileges earned by a life of hard work, prudent financial management, and a taste for adventure. Over the years, not only have she and her husband (as well as, at the worst of times, her three reluctant adolescent kids) been blessed with the chance to drag 50-pound suitcases from airport terminal to taxi queue to hotel lobby to hotel room and back again (or else, when the luggage is lost in transit, to spend two weeks in Tahiti in three-piece suits), but they have splurged on bus tours that allotted 15 minutes to view the Book of Kells in Ireland and an hour and a half to tour a sweater factory; on a private car whose driver spoke English like an Italian Henry Kissinger with a lip full of Novocain; on a villa in which the staff spoke only Spanish and the guests were reduced to rubbing their tummies at the cook and saying, ``Yummy, yummy!''; and on a glamorous cruise through the fjords of Norway, where Bombeck and spouse ate 17 meals a day and outgrew their clothes, only to find half the crew camped out in the exercise room. Worldly wisdom gained by years of experience with Turkish bathrooms, Montezuma's revenge, and transporting native spears home on American airlines has impressed on Bombeck the basic commonality of all cultures and has inspired her to suggest that instead of stockpiling nuclear weapons we should aim our vacation slides at one another. Classic Bombeck, in which she does away with any notion of an empty-nest syndrome. (Literary Guild Dual Selection for August.)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 1991

ISBN: 0-06-018311-X

Page Count: 256

Publisher: HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 1991

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This is not the Nutcracker sweet, as passed on by Tchaikovsky and Marius Petipa. No, this is the original Hoffmann tale of 1816, in which the froth of Christmas revelry occasionally parts to let the dark underside of childhood fantasies and fears peek through. The boundaries between dream and reality fade, just as Godfather Drosselmeier, the Nutcracker's creator, is seen as alternately sinister and jolly. And Italian artist Roberto Innocenti gives an errily realistic air to Marie's dreams, in richly detailed illustrations touched by a mysterious light. A beautiful version of this classic tale, which will captivate adults and children alike. (Nutcracker; $35.00; Oct. 28, 1996; 136 pp.; 0-15-100227-4)

Pub Date: Oct. 28, 1996

ISBN: 0-15-100227-4

Page Count: 136

Publisher: Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1996

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An extravaganza in Bemelmans' inimitable vein, but written almost dead pan, with sly, amusing, sometimes biting undertones, breaking through. For Bemelmans was "the man who came to cocktails". And his hostess was Lady Mendl (Elsie de Wolfe), arbiter of American decorating taste over a generation. Lady Mendl was an incredible person,- self-made in proper American tradition on the one hand, for she had been haunted by the poverty of her childhood, and the years of struggle up from its ugliness,- until she became synonymous with the exotic, exquisite, worshipper at beauty's whrine. Bemelmans draws a portrait in extremes, through apt descriptions, through hilarious anecdote, through surprisingly sympathetic and understanding bits of appreciation. The scene shifts from Hollywood to the home she loved the best in Versailles. One meets in passing a vast roster of famous figures of the international and artistic set. And always one feels Bemelmans, slightly offstage, observing, recording, commenting, illustrated.

Pub Date: Feb. 23, 1955

ISBN: 0670717797

Page Count: -

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: Oct. 25, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1955

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